Vision Issues - Can Alcohol Consumption Contribute?

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited : JUly  19, 
2021 
| 4 Sources


There are many reasons why someone might experience vision issues. Alcohol has been found to make blood vessels more permeable and inflamed, which can lead to an increase in eye pressure.

This article will explore the link between alcoholism and vision problems as well as how drinking too much may worsen other preexisting conditions like glaucoma that already cause blurry eyesight. 

What is the Link Between Alcohol and Vision Issues?

Alcohol consumption can have a big impact on vision issues in several ways. The first way is through the simple increase of eye pressure caused by inflammation and fluid retention. This is most common in patients who suffer from glaucoma, which causes pupil dilation, blurry vision, and extreme sensitivity to light.

In most people, the bodies systems work together so that when one system is struggling, the rest of the body steps up to help out and compensate. However, with alcohol consumption, this doesn't happen naturally while the body is under attack from its presence. It will usually take longer than normal for an individual's blood vessels or nerves to bounce back after having a problem with alcohol.

This is why it is important to know how alcoholism affects eyesight before getting treatments for other sight issues like glaucoma because if you are not careful about your level of alcohol intake, you could end up making your situation worse.

The second cause for blurred eyesight involves how alcohol alters the blood flow throughout the body. When consumed over time, it will start to have an effect on the swelling of vessels due to its inflammatory properties.

Alcohol also reduces natural collagen and elastin production that occurs normally within joints or tendons. As these qualities are reduced on a cellular level because of alcohol intake, blood vessels become more permeable, increasing the chances for blood clots to form and accumulate.

Another way alcohol causes vision issues is by damaging the optic nerve. The optic nerve is a bundle of nerves that transfers information from the retina to the brain in order for us to be able to process what we see, but this bundle can become damaged when exposed to excessive amounts of alcohol over extended periods of time.

Can Drinking Alcohol Cause Blindness

Drinking alcohol can cause temporary blindness also known as legal blindness caused by a medical condition called alcoholic amblyopia. This occurs when the eye's optic nerve is damaged from drinking too much over a period of time. About 60-80% of alcoholics will suffer from this problem, and it may take several years for a full recovery (if at all) to occur.

If you have been drinking heavily for a long period of time, there is a good chance that your natural eye pressure has become higher than normal. This means you will need to undergo an eye test in order to check and ensure that everything is working properly. If the results show that your eyesight has changed or deteriorated due to your alcohol consumption, it would be best if you got help from professional health care specialists just as soon as possible.

There are several treatments available today for patients with glaucoma such as medications, surgery, or even lifestyle changes that may work depending on how severe your condition is.

How Does Alcohol Affect Eyesight?

Alcohol consumption affects vision in multiple ways such as affecting the liver that produces bile, which in turn protects our corneas from harmful chemicals and substances produced while digesting food. Although it only takes one drink for vision issues to appear, damage doesn't happen immediately after consumption but rather over time with multiple drinks. This is why there are many people who cannot immediately tell if their eyesight has been affected by alcohol consumption. You cannot tell if you have a problem with your vision or not unless you undergo an eye examination.

The way that drinking too much alcohol affects the eyes is by interfering with the body's natural ability to maintain stable blood pressure, thus causing visual impairments. For example, if someone drinks too much alcohol in one sitting, their blood pressure can drop very low which will make it difficult for them to keep up with their regular vision functions.

What Are Some Signs of Eye Damage from Drinking Too Much Alcohol?

One way that a person can get a good idea of whether their eyesight has been affected by alcoholism is to take note of changes in their visual performance. Various vision issues can occur but most are related to blurry vision, double vision, and poor night vision. If it has been determined that alcohol consumption causes your eye issues, you will need to get help from a doctor for further treatments and at least stop drinking if the problem gets worse.

There are also some other warning signs that you should look out for to ensure that your eyesight is not at risk. These include unexplained headaches, nausea or vomiting, and even dilation of the pupils. The latter can be particularly dangerous because it could indicate damage from alcohol overconsumption or other vision issues, so it is important to treat any underlying causes as soon as possible.

If a person has developed permanent damage from alcoholism in their formative years, this will likely influence their vision later on in life. This is why moderate drinking is advised early on within one's teenage years so that eyesight problems do not occur as they age.

Vision issuesPhoto by Jose A.Thompson

Other symptoms that may indicate a problem with your eyesight caused by heavy drinking

Eye pain, problems focusing and seeing clearly (despite having a normal vision), and in some cases temporary blindness. If you experience any of these symptoms, they may indicate that your eyesight cannot handle the stress from alcoholism so it would be important to stop drinking as soon as possible.

If a person is already suffering from vision issues due to their alcohol consumption, then they will need to reduce their alcohol intake or even quit completely. Hopefully, after stopping for several weeks or months, the damage can start to reverse itself, but this of course depends on how far it has been allowed to progress.

How to lower your risk for developing an alcohol-related eye condition

If you want to prevent or treat any vision issues, it is best to see an eye doctor; ideally, one who specializes in treating certain eye conditions related to alcoholism. You should talk about any concerns that you might have with them and make sure that everything is taken care of. If you have cataracts or glaucoma, for example, there are treatments that can help relieve the symptoms and make it easier to live with them over time.

Doctors can also prescribe eye drops (like Pred Forte) if they think that your eyesight is at risk or even has been damaged already by excessive alcohol consumption. You will then need to take these drops as prescribed so that your vision does not worsen over time. It may be a good idea to start using them right now so that you can maintain your current level of sight for as long as possible.

Conclusion

The link between alcohol and vision issues is a well-known fact. There are many ways that drinking too much can lead to eye damage, but there are also things you can do to prevent or reverse this effect.

Drinking in moderation is the best way to reduce your risk for an alcohol-related eye condition like glaucoma, which damages optic nerve cells and causes blindness. Additionally, make sure you have regular checkups with an optometrist so they can monitor any changes in your eyesight as a result of heavy drinking habits.

If you notice anything unusual about your eyes after having more than one drink - such as blurry vision, redness, or swelling around them - it's time to get help right away



Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl

Licensed Medical Health Professional 


Hello!

I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LCMHC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More


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